Alert Raised over Volcanoes

KUPANG ~ Alerts have been raised over two volcanoes, in Flores and Sumatra, that are threatening to erupt.

Officials have raised the alert level for smoking Mount Batutara volcano, warning fishermen and others to stay away from the remote island it is situated on.

“We recommend … to be alert and not to go close to the mountain,” local official Sentianus Medi said on Thursday, as the alert level was raised to the second of four possible levels.

The volcano is located on a normally deserted island in the Flores sea, but fishermen and others who occasionally land there were warned to stay at least two kilometers away.

“The mountain has shown increased activity, with smoke rising between 500 meters to 1,500 meters above the volcano,” said Medi.

However, experts said an eruption was not imminent.

Meanwhile, the alert level for Mount Talang in Sumatra has also been raised, following increased smoke and tremors.

“The status was raised on March 17 at 7pm,” said Dalifa Marjusi from the local vulcanology office.

Marjusi said increased activity has been reported from the peak of the 2,597-metre-high volcano in West Sumatra province, prompting the rise to three of four possible levels.

“The smoke is reaching heights of up to 800 meters,” he said.

He said local Solok district authorities were immediately notified of the rise. A coordination meeting was held on Sunday night with district authorities to prepare for a possible eruption should the alert level reach four.

The Solok district chief, Gusmal, said some 41,000 people might need to be evacuated from the slope of the mountain should an eruption prove imminent.

“There is yet no plan to evacuate them, but we are now preparing in case the alert status is raised,” Gusmal said.

More than 25,000 residents were evacuated in April 2005 from the slopes of Mount Talang as the volcano heightened its rumbling and spewed volcanic ash.

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